With the release of billboard-topping track “Walk on the Wild Side” among many other hits and his role as the lead singer and co-founder of the ‘60s rock band The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed was one of the most influential men in rock and roll.  With his recent passing on Oct. 27 from liver disease at the age of 71, the world has lost one of rock and roll’s earliest innovators and a true legend.

Reed had an encapsulating spark of genius flourishing within him throughout his life that he managed to spread to the world through his music. In the early ‘60s, a relatively unknown Reed created the band The Velvet Underground with his close friend, John Cale.

Their success story was unique because the band didn’t shoot to superstardom upon arrival into the industry; in fact, their first album really didn’t fare well at all at the time.

Most of Reed’s success came individually as an artist after the breakup of The Velvet Underground and with the start of his solo career. In the early ‘70s, Reed released his self-entitled album “Lou Reed,” followed by “Transformer.” His first solo album was mainly re-recorded material from The Velvet Underground, but “Transformer” showcased Reed’s new material and his unique voice captivated audiences and launched him into stardom.

Reed had a tremendous support system in releasing “Transformer” because the album was produced by music legends David Bowie and Mick Ronson. With the help of these big names, Reed gained more commercial success and opened his audience to a larger scope of people.

Continuously throughout his life, Reed drew connections with influential, popular people, such as Bowie and Andy Warhol, to immerse himself into the world of rock music and pop culture.

He went on to produce a number of successful albums, most notably “Sally Can’t Dance.”  This album allowed listeners to establish a more personal connection with Reed because he opened up personally within it, and many of the songs displayed an emotional side of him that had never been previously introduced.

Today, The Velvet Underground is accredited as one of the most innovative rock bands because of the unique sound the band introduced. Reed’s low-pitched, iconic monotone singing voice and the rhythmic beats designed by Cale combined to create a new sound for rock music, infusing so much emotion through such a simple-sounding voice. Reed was also daring with his lyrics, willing to sing about controversial issues like politics, race and social issues.

Reed’s career was long-lasting. He managed to influence millions of artists through his music, and he essentially redefined rock music in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Listening to his intimate lyrics and jarring music will always take listeners to a dark and honest place of reflection within Reed’s soul.

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